tv PBS News Hour PBS October 22, 2012 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: u.s. policy around the world takes center stage tonight for the third and final face-off between president obama and mitt romney. good evening. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, we get some pre-debate analysis from mark shields and david brooks. >> ifill: tonight's match-up takes place in florida. we travel there to assess the state of the race. it's getting harder and harder to breakthrough to undecided base voters because there's just such a saturation level of everything and it's so negative. >> woodruff: plus, jeffrey brown looks at where the candidates stand on key foreign policy issues. >> ifill: then, lance armstrong is stripped of his titles and
banned from competing for life. ray suarez examines the impact of an athlete's fall from grace. >> woodruff: and we remember a statesman and a proud liberal, presidential candidate and senator george mcgovern. >> your colleague in the press, some of them referring to me as the conscience of the party. others talking about me as the peacemaker in the race. and still others as the elder statesman. that's quite a triple crown. >> ifill: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: with united health care i got help that changed my life. information on my phone, connection to doctors who get where i'm from. and tools to estimate what my care may cost so i never miss a beat. >> we're more than 78,000 people looking out for more than 70
million americans. that's health in numbers. united health care. the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and friends of the newshour. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: voters get one last chance tonight to see the president and his republican challenger face to face. they'll go at it over foreign affairs, with 15 days until election day. as the candidates prepare for their third and final debate in florida tonight, fresh polls show the presidential race
closer than ever. president obama and governor romney will be seated for tonight's discussion of foreign policy at lynn university in boca raton. entering tonight's face-off, the two are now in a dead heat nationally. the latest nbc news/wall street journal poll shows them tied at 47% among likely voters. another ohio survey, this one conducted by a university and cbs news, show the president leading 50% to 45%. he had been up 10 points in last month's survey. the president also appears to be losing his edge over romney on the question of who would be a better commander in chief. in the nbc poll, his incumbent's advantage has now narrowed from eight points to three. with both candidates preparing for tonight's meeting, their running mates spent the day on the stump. vice president biden was in
ohio. >> we went from losing 800,000 jobs a month when we took office to an average of 167,000 jobs a month for 30 months in a row. they still say america is in decline. ladies and gentlemen, you know this is preaching to the choir. america is not in decline. here's what it is. romney and ryan are in denial. >> ifill: and republican paul ryan flew to colorado. >> mitt romney and i are not going to run away from these problems. we're going to run to these problems to solve these problems because they get out of our control. that's what leaders do. we're not going to kick the can down the road. we're going to lead. i'll tell you what. we're not going to spend the next four years blaming other people for our problems. we're going to take responsibility. >> ifill: just 15 days left. both campaigns are burning through their considerable cash reserves. the democrats spend $111 million in september, mostly on ads, leaving the president and his party with $149 million cash on
hand. romney and the republican national committee meanwhile spent $55 million last month and had $183 million left at the end of september. here with us now to preview what to expect tonight are syndicated columnist mark shields and "new york times" columnist david brooks. if i had said to either of you six weeks ago that everything in this election would be so tight that it would depend on the third foreign policy debate, what would you have said to me? >> surprise. and advantage obama. now i should say i think the underlying tenor of the past week has been shifting toward romney. there's been a slight momentum shift towards the challenger over the last week. that puts a little more pressure on obama. nonetheless i do think this is his natural home turf. he's talked about foreign policy a lot more than mitt romney. it's his chance to really deliver a serious blow. for mitt romney, the idea i think for tonight is just to come out with a tie. just kind of look presidential. don't scare anybody.
just, you know, he has much lower ambitions i think. >> ifill: what do you think about that, mark? is it more important for whoever wins this debate to come out with a detailed grasp of foreign policy or just look like a president? >> i think first of all, gwen, there's a competing theory on what president obama should do. one argument is that you take the question and you just turn it right back to domestic. for america to be strong in the world we have to have a strong, vibrant economy at home and a growing economy and better education. that's what i'm about. the second is to trump mitt romney's very limited credentials and his stumbles quite frankly whether it's russia or great britain and his own trips abroad. and try to exploit that. but david is right. the underlying tenor of this campaign, the internal, if you would, of the polls, have been moving in romney's direction. i mean he's now seen as better on the economy. he's now seen as better on the jobs.
all these numbers are up in that wall street journal/nbc poll you just mentioned since the first debate. i would say right now the president has enormous responsibility tonight. that is, it's the goldilocks factor. i was too cool in the first debate. he may have been a little too hot in the second debate. i think he's just got to strike it right here tonight and i think that is the key for him. they're going to be seated at a table much like we are so that might be like i can reach out and touch you if i wanted to which might not be a good idea in the debate tonight. does it matter that they talk about america's longest war afghanistan and talk about iran and whether we'll negotiate and talk about these granular foreign policies. >> i think it's a little too very middle east aspectson trick. i still think the president has to go. he has chosen for reasons which mystify me a campaign centering on disqualifying your opponent.
i think he should have done a lot more positive about his own agenda but he made this call. i think if the momentum is is shifting toward romney he has to double down on that. he has to say this guy is really dangerous. he's really contradicting himself. even though they are sitting down in a less combative format i do think he has to remind people we really can't trust romney. that's the strategy they've chosen in this race. it's too late to change it. >> i think romney, the mystery to me is he's really relied upon i'd say the discredited neo con position that george bush listened to which really resulted in the republican repudiation in 2006. that was not a defeat based upon the economy in 2006. it was america's dissatisfaction and really anger with that foreign of bush's both iraq and afghanistan. i think the more he sounds like maybe we ought to get tough with iran or even think about going in i think it puts him in a position that strengthens the president as a grown-up. >> i agree. i think people don't want
somebody who will be super aggressionive threatening wars. they know that foreign policy challenges are filled with uncertainty. there's no good option. they want to show somebody who can show discretion. romney would be making an error to be super... >> ifill: first debate we said romney needed a second look and who needs the second or third look the most tonight? >> the president does. i think it was said to me this weekend by a very wise person that we will look back on the first debate of 2012 the same way we looked back at john kennedy and richard nixon. that established richard nixon as the equal of jack kennedy. the equal of richard nixon which he hadn't been. the first debate the implications of it remain profound and real and it's shaped this race. >> and vice president biden i think one their debate. i think obama won this last debate. so far if there's an effect in
the polls it hasn't been visible to me at least. that first debate had a huge effect. the last two not so much. >> ifill: who they speaking to tonight? are they speaking to the undecided women in sub urban columbus? are they speaking to the nation at large? who counts tonight? >> that's a great thing about it. you're speaking to everybody at the same time. the president's problem is... one of his problems is that he has the advantage, a lead of five points in that nbc wall street journal poll among registered voters but they're tie among thoaft most likely to vote. it's a problem of excitement, of generation, of convincing his people that their vote matters that this is an important election that he's going to make a difference. really to g. >> n them up. i'm fed up with microtargeting. there's been a loss of vision for both candidates. if i were counseling the two guys i'd say don't worry about the undecided voter in columbus. just speak your mind and give people a sense of who you are. >> you have to raise the stakes
of this race in an inspiring sense. >> ifill: we'll be watching to see whether they do any of what you say tonight. >> if they're smart, they won't. fill: thank you so much. mark and david will be back for us for the pbs newshour debate special at 9:00 p.m. eastern and online and online, our livestream will offer analysis and samples of the newshour's extensive reporting on foreign affairs. also, our liveblog will provide reaction from both sides and context to what's being said on stage in florida tonight. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour, the race in florida as tonight's debate draws close; the campaigns' foreign policy agendas; the fall of cyclist lance armstrong; and the life and legacy of a proud liberal. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: fears that syria's civil war could spill into lebanon escalated today. the lebanese army promised a crackdown to stop gun battles that killed at least seven people since last night. sunni gunmen roamed the streets of beirut and tripoli today, clashing with shiites. and lebanese soldiers took up
positions on major streets around the capital. the trouble started friday with the car bomb killing of the lebanese intelligence chief. the fighting in syria also has rippled across the border with jordan. overnight, a jordanian soldier was killed in clashes with militants trying to enter syria illegally. it was unclear if the gunmen were jordanians or foreign fighters bent on battling the assad regime in syria. a gunman who opened fire in suburban milwaukee on sunday had a history of abuse. that's according to court papers obtained today by the associated press. radcliffe haughton targeted this spa where his estranged wife worked. he killed her and two other women and wounded four more before shooting himself. the court documents showed haughton had threatened to kill his wife. last thursday, a judge granted her a restraining order. the outbreak of fungal meningitis in the u.s. is nearing 300 cases. the centers for disease control and prevention reported today it
has confirmed 297 people were made ill from tainted pain- killing injections. they're spread across 16 states. 23 people have died in the outbreak. wall street struggled today just to stay even, after a batch of disappointing reports on corporate earnings. the dow jones industrial average gained two points to close near 13,346. the nasdaq rose 11 points to close just below 3017. native american activist and actor russell means died today at his home in south dakota. he had throat cancer. means was a leader of the american indian movement in the 1970s, and he was at the forefront of the sometimes violent occupation of wounded in later years, he had an acting career, appearing in "the last of the mohicans" and other films. russell means was 72 years old. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: as the candidates prepared for their third and final debate, i spent the weekend talking to voters in a
state the president won by three points in 2008. for months now, both men have been fighting over and pouring resources into florida. . >> congressman paul ryan and governor mitt romney. >> woodruff: it was late friday night when mitt romney showed up in the sunshine day buoyed by polls after the first debate that show him gaining here. >> how about this? are you ready for four very different years? >> yeah! four years where we create 12 million new jobs and rising take-home pay. >> woodruff: romney and his running mate paul ryan came to daytona beach on the east side of the swing voter rich i-4 corridor. during the popular biking fess which draws thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts most of them middle aged whitemen a cohort that has been leaning romney. men like this 61-year-old
lifelong republican. >> we need a little bit of common sense about where money comes from, how money is generated, job creation, the way to get... to increase tax revenues is not necessarily raise taxes. i think romney has got a really good grasp on that. >> woodruff: the stop reflects the belief in both campaigns that by now most voters have made up their minds. the overriding goal is to turn them out. and with just two weeks and one debate left, the opportunity is shrinking. to appeal to the small remaining slice of undecideds. in romney's case, to voters who went with president obama in 2008. >> he's a very good speaker. sounds like kennedy back in the day. but actions are everything. and another four years, if you ran a company, they're not going to give you another four years to turn something around. so that's why i'm switching my
vote. >> woodruff: but harder to persuade are voters like anna hallday who after watching the long, bitter campaign are turned off. >> it's always... i've been a republican supporter and voted republican until this election i am really hesitant on which way to go. only because i'm looking at it maybe i'm older and i'm also seeing name calling and personal attacks which i find is very low. >> woodruff: political science professor susan macmanus of the university of south florida says women and younger voters are especially repelled by the negative tone of most of the tv ads and the last two debates. >> it's getting harder and harder to breakthrough to undecided base voters that we just mentioned because there's just like this saturation level of everything, and it's so negative. >> woodruff: macmanus says
this makes the last debate more important than ever. >> it really is likely to be the case even though it's foreign policy. both of them are find a way to tie it back to the economy. because this is their last chance to get through to the nation their perspectives and what they plan to do about economic recovery which is critical in most of the swing states. i do believe if it's as negative as it was the last time, the last two debates have been very combative that's extremely alienating to younger and a lot of women voters that if they tune in and they see that's the tone and the direction of the debate that they won't last very long. >> woodruff: to connect with those women voters, ann romney was also in all-important central florida this weekend for the orlando breast cancer walk. >> i'm here. i'm a cancer survivor myself. we're just excited about being able to join with so many survivors and family members. it's a beautiful day.
and a beautiful thing we're doing. >> woodruff: a survey shows the president advantage among female voters here has flipped. his camp has responded by highlighting his position for equal pay in the workplace. and for reproductive rights. views that could hold sway with still undecided heather carpenter. >> no public officials should have any right to say what a woman can do with their bodies. >> woodruff: romney has countered by expressing how much the economy matters to women. that argument sells with republican and small business owner kim briggs. >> i'm mother focused on the economy than my reproductive rights. >> woodruff: with the fight over women more urgent than ever, obama phone banks like this one in the orlando suburbs have taken on even more importance. tony at the urging of her 82-year-old mother, has been hosting women-to-women calling
sessions in her neighborhood for months. >> everybody look into camera. 1, 2, 3. >> woodruff: she acknowledges support for the president has changed from what it was in 2008. but argues it's still solid. >> i think that there's a more mature enthusiasm would be how i would characterize it. i think everyone is still excited. they're motivated. they're energized. i believe that president obama has done a really good job of getting us pointed in the right direction. i think that we can already see the changes. they're happening now. >> woodruff: those changes are evident in florida. an uptick in housing sales and tourism. the unemployment rate has improved almost two percentage points just in the past year. but at 8.7% it is still high. for the obama camp, it's also counting on its vaunted ground
game. and changes in the florida electorate since 2008 that work in the president's favor. the addition of almost 200,000 more hispanics, 50,000 more african and caribbean americans to the registered voter rolls and 44,000 fewer whites. an early sign that may be working is in bellwether tampa in surrounding hillsboro county where democrats so far are returning more absentee ballots than republicans. >> i'm asking for your help. florida, can you make some phone calls for me? ( cheers and applause ) could you knock on some doors for me? ( cheers and applause ) will you tell your friends and neighbors what's at stake in this election? ( cheers and applause ) will you register? will you vote? because if you do, we will finish what we started. >> trying to find out people are supporting obama >> woodruff: some of the vote president obama is asking for
are new arrivals of puerto ricans here in central florida >> we're dealing with a tight race here. it could come down to two or three points >> woodruff: democrat florida state legislator and candidate for the state senate darren soto, whose father is puerto rican, represents a heavily hispanic district. >> we're there to turn out democrats, to convince independents, and even pull some of the soft rs who may not sort of know where the etch a sketch romney quite is. this sort of shuffle from conservative republican to moderate everything to everybody all the time. you may or may not agree with everything the president has to say but you know where he stands. he's the same in 2008 as 2012. he can win by a few thousand votes in the state of florida >> woodruff: republicans are also going door to door in this crucial part of the state. their efforts have picked up momentum has romney has moved up in the polls. incoming speaker of the florida
state house of representatives will weatherford >> you see more people showing up asking for yard signs. more people showing up to knock on doors and do campaigning, canvassing around the neighborhood. more chatter at the water cooler >> woodruff: both sides are predicting victory and the senior citizens who stood in line to hear vice president biden at the republican friendly retirement community sun city say they are confident that the president will do well in the final debate which will center on foreign affairs. >> i think he and hillary clinton have done a fine job. i mean, after all, romney insulted israel, poland and u.k. all in one week or something. >> i don't think he's really in a position to jump all the way out there as far as foreign affairs is concerned and draw conclusions that we are weaker because of president obama. i think that we are stronger because of president obama. >> woodruff: but democratic
state legislator darren soto who knows florida politics says the pressure will be on the president not only to prevail on foreign policy but to make a larger point about the economy. and to do it in a way that gets democrats out of their homes and into the voting booth. >> continuing to fight for us like he did in the second debate will be critical. so he's got to keep that moxie together. second, i think he needs to continue to articulate and even further detail economic plans going forward. that's what this election is about. it's about jobs. i think in the end we need to see that vision and that inspiring tone that the president has that almost no other american politician in the past 10 to 20 years has had. you know, that tone that brought chills down people's back in 2008. >> woodruff: florida republicans say that won't be as effective in 2012 as it was four years ago. they agree florida could go either way, but argue it's governor romney who has the
breeze at his back now. it will become clearer which side is right once early voting begins here next weekend. > >> ifill: and we come back to tonight's debate. jeffrey brown has more on the subject at hand. >> brown: with high unemployment the economy remains issue number one in the presidential race. but foreign policy is also getting attention lately. driven in large part by the benghazi attack that killed a u.s. ambassador. it's the subject of tonight's debate. >> when it comes to our national security... >> brown: the president pointed to his record in last week's face-off >> i said we would go after al qaeda and bin laden, we have. i said we'd transition out of afghanistan and start making sure that afghans were responsible for their own security. that's what i'm doing. >> brown: but republican mitt romney has accused president obama of projecting weakness. >> it is our responsibility and the responsibility of the
president to use america's greatest power to shape history, not to lead from behind. leaving our destiny at the mercy of events. >> brown: iran's nuclear weapons program has been a particular flash point. over the weekend the "new york times" reported washington and tehran had, for the first time, agreed to one-on-one talks following the election. the white house denied there was a deal but did not deny it was pursuing bilateral talks >> al qaeda is a shadow of itself >> brown: democratic senator dick durbin of illinois said it shows the president's policies are working >> we have now put enough pressure on iran with the sanctions regime so they won't develop a nuclear weapon that they want to sit down and talk >> brown: republicans like south carolina senator lindsey graham argues it will take more than talk >> the purpose of sanctions is to stop the iranians from building a nuclear program and enriching iran. it's been a miserable failure. there's a pattern here. we talk. theyen rif. it needs to stop. we need to have red lines
coordinated with israel and end this before it gets out of hand >> brown: on afghanistan, the two camps agree on removing u.s. combat troops, but the exact timing and the size of the force that will remain in the country are still question marks. in the meantime, the benghazi attack continues to generate friction. just as in last week's debate, what the administration knew and when is sure to be a topic again tonight. joining me now to discuss this are two foreign affairs columnists, david ignatius of the "washington post" and trudy rubin of the philadelphia inquirer. trudy, let me start with you. are you surprised first that foreign policy seems to be getting more attention now even before tonight's debate? >> well, i think the republicans and mitt romney have done a good job politically of revving up interest in this benghazi affair and making it look like a mini-scandal. unfortunately the whole way it
has been handled blows it up entirely out of proportion. i do think politicizes it and avoids dealing with what might be real issues underlying benghazi. this was a mid-level bureaucratic issue in the state department, providing embassy security. it's not something that rises to the level of the white house. and the question of who knew what when is rather weird given that all our personnel were pulled out of benghazi. so there was no one to give information on the ground. it took several days for the intelligence agencies to really figure out the whole picture. so the focus has been totally distorted but i think that this is what has gotten foreign policy back into the debate. >> brown: david ignatius, we know we'll hear more about that tonight. let me ask you about some of the other issues we're expecting to hear about. starting with afghanistan. what do the candidates agree on? what are the questions to are still out there? >> well, on paper the
candidates' positions on afghanistan are almost identical. they both talk about u.s. troops being gone from afghanistan by the end of 2014. president obama has negotiated an agreement with the afghanistan government for some continuing american presence. there will be talk about that. i think that romney is likely to say that the way the president has raised his policy conveys weakness rather than resolve. on the question you asked at the outset, why is policy back as an issue? this is something that obama thought he had a lock on this issue. i think that it is overseas especially in the middle east a sense of turmoil, a sense of events being a little bit out of control. the war in syria that just keeps getting worse, keeps taking more lives. the events in benghazi obviously dramatize the degree to which there's instability in the
islamic world especially in north africa. i think that romney's argument that america is weak under president obama, a lack of clear leadership has more resonance now because of what people are seeing on their tv screens. the positions on afghanistan and other issues on paper are not that different. the question is whether romney will be able to present this image of a more forceful approach and whether obama can match that. >> brown: trudy rubin, let me take you to another, again, to match the views here. iran. a while ago we heard all about red lines. then this possibility about the possibility of direct negotiations. now again once again the question is where do you see the views of the two candidates? what is similar? what do we not yet know about? >> well, on the iranian issue, mitt romney has said that he believes iran should not have the capability to develop a nuclear weapon. now how do you define capability?
the israeli prime minister has said that capability means that you would have enough enriched uranium which wouldn't be bomb grade but which you could then enrich to bomb grade and you could develop the weapon to carry it. but capability would come before you had developed that weapon, long before. and so i think the question that should be asked at this debate is how does mitt romney define capability? prime minister netanyahu said that iran would have that in six months. is mitt romney ready to go to war in six months? on the president's side, he has said he would prevent iran from getting a weapon so i think the question there is, would he know when there was a weapon? but in the meantime the president has managed to put in place very harsh sanctions. my guess is that romney would probably back off but we won't know that until we see... if he
wins >> brown: let me ask david how he sees iran playing into the foreign policy debate and particularly tonight >> the hot issue tonight will be the question of whether, as the "new york times" reported over the weekend, the obama administration's planning to go into negotiations with iran for a diplomatic solution to this nuclear issue after the election and what's interesting, i think, is that i would expect president obama rather than saying absolutely not, that story was wrong, will indicate that he's interested in a negotiated solution here, that he has made a commitment to prevent iran from getting nuclear weapon meaning he'll go to war if necessary but i don't think the country wants to go to war. obama knows that. i guess that he'd say i'm ready for a negotiated solution that will put limits on iran's program. he'll almost, i would guess, push romney to see whether he's
willing to respond in a similarly forth coming way. it will be a fascinating moment tonight. what about that? is romney ready to negotiate? i would think that if romney absolutely rejects negotiations and this is a matter for us and israel and, you know, if if it's a very hard-line answer that might be a problem for him. >> brown: trudy rubin, come back to the issue that david ignatius brought up. the larger question about america's role in the world which will be on the table tonight. the kind of questions, you know, the idea of american exceptionalism. witwhat is our strength and weakness? what should we be projecting? we heard romney talking about shaping history, leading from behind. all of that. what do you want to hear on these issues? what's the way to frame them tonight? >> i think when one is looking at what romney has said and talking about shaping history one has to look at a middle east that basically is no longer simply marching to an american
tune. romney has portrayed the region in terms of the forces of good against the forces of darkness, specifically islamists. but it's much more complex than that. the question is can we shape entirely? is there more we can do? both candidates say they support democracy but democracy has led to elections in egypt and tunisia that produced islamists. i think romney hasn't squared that circle. if you go for democracy and you get a result that you don't like. obama, on the other hand, i think really has to deal with the issue of syria. i think that one of the great questions about leadership in the middle east stems from the fact that the syrian situation is getting worse and worse and drawing in all the countries around it in the region and sparking sectarian tensions throughout the region. obama has basically stood back on that issue not wanting to arm rebels and not putting enough
resources into identifying rebels that we might be able to help and sort of outsourcing. romney also talks about outsourcing, letting other countries give arms to the rebels. that to me is the heart of influence in the region, the syrian question >> brown: and a brief last word from you, david ignatius on this big picture >> i'd love to see as part of this debate devoted to the question of what is american leadership in the world today? mitt romney has given a very traditional view that we are the unique, exceptional power or the shining city on a hill. i think i hear in obama the idea that american power should be resized to fit a world that's changing. i'll be watching tonight to see whether the president expresses that new somewhat dangerous idea in a way that speaks to the way the world is changing >> brown: david ignatius, trudy rubin, thanks so much.
>> ifill: next, a fall from grace for lance armstrong, and an end to the historic records he set. ray suarez has the story. >> suarez: with a single stroke today, lance armstrong's name was wiped from the record books >> lance armstrong has no place in cycling. >> saurez: the president of the international cycling union announced armstrong is banned from professional cycling for life and he's being stripped of his seven tour de france titles. from 1999 to 2005. the victories will not go to anyone else because 20 of the 21 were also linked to doping. it all follows the u.s. anti-doping agency report that armstrong led the most sweeping doping effort in any sport ever >> as a cyclist and somebody coming from a cycling background i was sickened by what i read >> suarez: armstrong has repeatedly denied the charges but sponsors such as nike and
anheuser busch dropped him last week. he stepped down as chairman of his cancer awareness livestrong foundation. he spoke yesterday at a livestrong event in texas >> people ask me a lot how are you doing? i tell them, i say, well, i've been better. but i've also been worse >> suarez: armstrong's fall from grace is hardly unique. >> announcer: bonds hits one hard >> suarez: last december all time home run king barry bonds got two years' probation for lying to a federal grand jury about steroid use. similar scandals also tainted the home run heroic of sluggers mark maguire and sammy sosa. in track olympic star marion jones admitted in 2007 that she too lied to federal investigators about using performance-enhancing drugs. for some athletes the trouble starts off the field rather than on it. many manage to bounce back. los angeles lakers' star kobe bryant was charged with sexual assault in 2003 after winning
three nba championships. the charge was eventually dropped and he won two more titles. then atlanta falcons quarterback michael vic spent two years in prison for dog fighting. he joined the philadelphia eagles after he was released from prison in 2009. and tiger woods was engulfed in a sex scandal but returned to play and won his 74th tournament last summer. some thoughts now about the fallout of the lance armstrong story and those of other athletes whose reputations have been tarnished in this modern era. christine brennan is a sports writer and columnist for usa today and abc news. she's covered armstrong, marion jones, and the rise of performance-enhancing drugs in sports. as we noted, christine, this story is not the first. probably not the last. what's different about the armstrong saga? >> i think what's different is that lance armstrong has long ago left the sport sphere, the realm of sports and moved on to
a much higher plane in terms of his role in the cancer community, as an icon, a cause, someone that people looked up to. millions of cancer survivors, their family members, those fighting cancer have looked up to him. he is much more than just another athlete. even another famous athlete. he has transcended of sports. that's why i think he is so much more important than any other professional athlete we're talking about here and also why his fall is such a mat i can oe >> suarez: even though he competed in a sport that's not followed by most americans the way baseball, football, other competitive sports are? >> absolutely. but his success on his bike and the seven tour de france titles i think that's obviously what was compelling. even though it's not a sport that americans care about except a couple weeks every year for for those couple weeks he was such a compelling story but also because he was a cancer survivor >> suarez: so the bike, the
cancer activism, once you take away the acheesms on the bike, the cancer activism falls apart or does it give him something to hold on to? >> now i think it's in trouble. we're seeing stories on the wires of people who donated to the livestrong foundation saying they want their money back. right now it's just a trickle. will there be more? will there be lawsuits, civil suits, what have you? lance was the tour de france. yes, he's the cancer icon, of course. he's done great things which makes this such a tragedy. but at the core without the bike, without the victory, he's just another person talking about tan ser. so that's what makes it so devastate ing is the fact that now he is seen as one of the worst liars and cheats probably ever in sports and maybe ever in our culture. it's that big of a deal. then obviously everything else is called into question >> suarez: what about other kinds of embarrassments, disgraces? the taking away of titles that we've seen with other athletes.
some of them find a way to crawl back into the public's good graces. some of them don't. how do we distinguish between those? >> certainly it helps to still be playing your sport. so tiger woods, michael vic, kobe bryant, all those names, they all had the opportunity to come back on the field to play and have that second act that americans, especially american sports fans love to see so much. lance armstrong, 41 years old, not only has he retired because of his age but he's now banned because of his actions, of course, banned from ever competing again in any sanctioned sport. so he's lost cycling but he was going to do triathlon. i don't think he would have been the world's best triathlete. far from it. but the reality is he will never have that opportunity because he's banned from competing. so that story of coming back, a story of reception on the field of play, that is not available to lance armstrong. >> suarez: is there also a difference depending on how you were regarded before you ran into your problems, whether it's
charges that stuck, charges that didn't stick? before your disgrace if people thought you were a good guy, do you have more of a shock? >> i think so. for example, barry bonds was never well liked by anyone so there was no... nothing there that... no good will that he could rely on. no reserve of good will that he could kind of call on. i think for me personally barry bonds i thought... it was nothing to do with the fact whether people liked him or not. but i think a lot of fans and journalists were not looking to give him the benefit of the doubt. lance armstrong i think it's a little bit bit more of a murky area because there are so many people still who look at him and say i don't care about all that other stuff. you meant so much to me when i was fighting cancer. do think the bravado and the belligerent attitude, the way he has fought this has turned a lot of people off. now those who looked at him and said but i put you up on a pedestal, you were better than everybody else, when you come crashing down from that high,
when you're expected to be a better person than others, than potentially others and when lance armstrong is brought into that himself, then the fall is even more dramatic. >> suarez: how come american sports fans haven't by now worn in some calluses on their hearts? they are so ready to embrace the next person who comes along and maybe be disappointed by them? >> you know, sports is still, many hope, is the escape from our reality. i think we could all make the strong case now that it is more a mirror of our society that when you pick up the sports section or go online and turn on the sports news you're going to hear a lot about lockouts and contracts and steroids and misbehavior but i still think that sports fan, he or she is still the little kid who started out cheering at age 5 or 6 for whatever team they were cheering for. they're hoping that they can once again be inspired. they're probably hoping for the escape from reality even though the reality is that it's much more a mirror of our society
>> suarez: christine brennan, thanks a lot >> ray, thank you very much. >> woodruff: finally tonight, we remember former presidential candidate and longtime democratic senator from south dakota george mcgovern. ell, we really are in new hampshire. >> woodruff: he was a war hero who gained prominence opposing war. and a three-time presidential candidate who lost one of the most lopsided elections in history. his name itself became synonymous with american liberalism. for good or ill over six decades in public life. in 1988, gorge mcgovern visited the newshour with the man who personified conservatism for a generation. senator barry goldwater >> you agree that just as a matter of political course to be labeledded a liberal, a mcgovern liberal even...
>> that's the worst kind of liberal there is >> the interesting thing about liberalism to me -- and i would say this to some of my fellow democrats who seem to be running away from it as it's a kind of a swear word -- is that virtually every program that we now have on the statute books that most americans support i would say that barry goldwater and george mcgovern could probably ghettoing on most of those programs. those began as liberal initiatives over conservative opposition. >> woodruff: it was that sometimes advocacy of the liberal ideal that animated his career. george stanley mcgovern was born july 19, 1922 in the tiny farming town of avon south dakota. son of a methodist minister. he flew 35 harrowing missions over europe during world war ii, winning the distinguished flying cross as a young army aviator.
in 2001 he spoke with the newshour about those missions >> we had no choice in the second world war. i never thought there was any choice. we had to stop those people, and the military machines behind them. whereas in vietnam it was a confusing situation. we undertook an impossible situation in vietnam. >> woodruff: mcgovern's opposition to the vietnam war blossomed during the first of his three terms in the u.s. senate. his antiwar stance became a crusade that propelled his first losing bid for the democratic presidential nomination in 1968. four years later, his youthful volunteers overwhelmed the party establishment. he emerged as the nominee. >> i assume that everyone here is impressed with my control of this convention and that my choice for vice president was
challenged by only 39 other nominees. >> woodruff: indeed that 1972 convention in miami was so kay on thetic that mcgovern did not deliver his acceptance speech until the wee hours of a friday morning. >> so join with me in this campaign. lend senator eagleton and me your strength and your support and together we will call america home to the ideals that nourished us from the very beginning. ( applause ) from secrecy and deception in high places, come home, america. from military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation, come home, america. >> woodruff: in short order though, vice presidential nominee thomas eagleton was forked after the ticket after revelations he had had psychiatric care and after mcgovern initially said he
supported him 1,000%. the south dakota senator went on to win just a single state: massachusetts and the district of columbia abouts president richard nixon rolled to re-election. it was just five months after the watergate break-in that would ultimately end nixon's presidency in disgrace. meanwhile mcgovern fervent opposition to the war brought many into the party ranks. in 1984 he spoke with cokey roberts on the newshour about this activism his earlier run had generated >> that gives me the greatest satisfaction is that they haven't dropped out of politics. i think you would be amazed to know how many of these democratic party officials across this country from the counties to the states to the national are so-called mcgovern supporters from '7 >> you feel in some ways you've changed people's lives >> i do indeed. every once in a while i run into somebody who tells me that she
met her husband in my campaign or a husband who says i met my wife. i have to tell you i caused a few divorces too. >> reporter: you don't want to tread too he havey >> the schedules are very, very hard on married life. >> woodruff: but apparently never on mcgovern. he was married 63 years. his wife eleanor died in 2007. 1984 found mcgovern vying again for the democratic nomination. this time to challenge president reagan. looking to kindle the old energy >> what america wants to know is how serious are you? is this a nostalgic run-around >> it's not a nostalgic run. you don't run for the presidency out of nostalgia. i've spelled out as clearly over the last few months my differences with the reagan administration and with the other candidates as it's possible to do. there's no question in my mind i've got a good, solid program. >> woodruff: but running as a dark horse, you never gained traction.
he bowed out after super tuesday in march that year with an appraisal of his campaign for the office he never won >> one of the things i like are the labels that i came out with. your colleagues in the press some of them referring to me as the conscience of the party. others talking about me as the peacemaker in the race. still others as the elder statesman. those are all fairly nice titles its quite a triple crown. >> woodruff: after that loss mcgovern spent years writing anded advocating for his most cherished caused: ending world hunger. but he was never far from politics. his last book "what it means to be a democrat" was releasedded this summer. not long after he returned to sioux falls south dakota. a few weeks ago he was taken to hospice and suffered a rapid decline in health. he died early sunday morning at the age of 90.
gary hart was mcgovern's presidential campaign manager in 1972. the former colorado senator was also a longtime friend. i spoke with hart a short while ago. senator gary hart, welcome. let me ask you about george mcgovern. you met him after his first run for president. what did you see in him and what he stood for that made you want to work for him? >> he was a man of strong convictions and very strong principles and great courage. not only in his opposition to the stalemate in vietnam but also to a life-long commitment to nutrition and hunger here at home and around the world. he was also involved in reforming the democratic party after the chaos in chicago. i was powerfully drawn to that cause as well. >> woodruff: it was you, senator hart, it was also people like
former president bill clinton as a young man and hillary clinton as a young woman. they were both in law school. all of you were working for him at a time... at a time in your lives when the war in vietnam was a huge issue. but what was it about him that drew you to that cause? >> there was a tremendous idealisidealcreated among younge including those of us who had entered our 30s left over from the john and robert kennedy days. we were looking for a candidate that appealed to that idealism. who told us that america could do better. it turns out that was george mcgovern more than any of the others. i think we were all drawn to him not just because of opposition to vietnam but because of that idealistic message that the country could do better at home and around the world >> woodruff: what do you think his legacy is? >> well, i'm perhaps alone in this. i think his success at saving
the democratic party between '68 and '72 has been very much underestimated. he drew the mcgovern commission that changed the rules, opened the party to participation by women, minorities and young people. and democratizing the democratic party which led to the convention in '72. he's had a profound impact on the democratic party. many critics said that he ruined the party. i think he saved the party. >> woodruff: it's interesting that you say that because i've been reading today about, you know, so much of the commentary. for example, the "new york times" said he really never lived down the image of the liberal loser. how do you see that? >> well, i've written on what constitutes winning and losing and those in the political journalism profession tend to treat politics as a sport, sometimes a blood sport.
if you're not a winner, you're a loser. and particularly if you lose 49 states. but if you add up what this man did with his life as compared to the man that was the winner in '72, there's no comparison as to who the real winner is. >> woodruff: is the democratic party that he believed in still the democratic party of today, do you think? >> not in this sense. all we hear about today from candidates of both parties is the middle class. when was the last time anyone talked about poverty in america? we still have one in five children in poverty. we still have 20% of chirp with no health care at all. there is a serious problem of poverty in america. but neither party including my own wants to talk about poor people anymore. it's all about the middle class. i think the reason for that, frankly, is -- and i spent a lot of my lifetime on this -- is you cannot have a new deal in great
society without an expanding economy. so the first thing is to get income into the hands of working people and middle-income people. when that happens and when they have economic security, then they're much more willing to care for and pay for the concerns of the needy. >> woodruff: senator gary hart, we thank you for talking with us >> it's my pleasure. thank you. >> woodruff: online there's more including gary hart's hart and jim lehrer's 1988 interview with george mcgovern on our web site. funeral services for senator mcgovern will be held friday in sioux falls, south dakota. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day. president obama and mitt romney made ready to take on foreign policy, in tonight's third and final debate. and the international cycling union banned lance armstrong for life for doping and formally stripped him of his seven tour de france titles. and online, one of our own remembers covering the cuban missile crisis as a cub reporter
50 years ago. kwame holman has more. >> holman: former newshour foreign editor mike mosettig was a reporter in training in washington in 1962. his story about that tense time when the world came close to nuclear war is on the rundown. two national debate champions and georgetown university juniors offer tips to the presidential candidates going into their final joust. and we get more answers from larry kotlikoff to your social security questions on making sense. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. gwen? >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, we'll check the candidates' statements tonight against the facts as we know them. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online, plus here at 9:00 p.m. eastern time for full coverage and analysis of the debate. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> united healthcare.
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